Saturday, January 9, 2010

Space Battleship Yamato 2010

Remember Uchū Senkan Yamato (宇宙戦艦ヤマト) anyone?

Most people probably won't since the series was first screened - under the lacklustre ulterior title of Star Blazers - in the US and Australia in 1979.

In the Western version there was deviously reduced violence, toned-down dialogue, and the complete deletion of the partaking of sake. Alcoholism and sexual innuendo were completely whitewashed or at least visually clipped out on the editing room floor and/or erased from the English dub.

Best called Space Battleship Yamato in English, the series was created by Licca-chan designer Miyako Maki's husband - the great Leiji Matsumoto (Captain Harlock and a swag of Daft Punk videos) - and actually screened on TVs in Japan in 1974-75.

It tells the story of the beleaguered inhabitants of Earth who, under hostile alien attack, secretly build a massive spacecraft inside the ruins of the Japanese battleship Yamato.

The first 90-minute movie spin-off, released in 1978, outclassed Star Wars at the Japanese box office, and quite understandably there've been a wad of sequels since then; the Yamato iconography - for both the space craft and the characters - is absolutely huge here in Japan.

And now there's this: A live-action rebake slated for a December 2010 cinema release, directed by Takashi Yamazaki (Returner) and starring SMAP's Takuya Kimura (Love and Honor), Aya Ueto (Azumi), Tsutomu Yamazaki (Departures), and Japanese favourite - but someone I just can't warm to; maybe it's the use of the single name? - Koyuki (The Last Samurai).

Having director Yamazaki "return" to sci-fi/action after a long stint doing more popular domestic comedy-drama (the Always double-header and The Animal Doctors) is possibly the greatest thing to happen to this genre in Japan since 2004, when Ryuhei Kitamura unleashed Godzilla: Final Wars and Kazuaki Kiriya pushed through Casshern. Yamazaki's earlier work Returner (2002) may have been flawed, but it still rocked on a lot of levels and bears up to repeated viewing.

While the original anime predated both Star Wars and the original 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica, the preview (below) does intimate that the makers indulged in much viewing of Ron Moore's recent Galactica reinvention - which, really, can only be a good thing.

Keep an eye on the official website - there's not so much on there at this stage but it's sure to develop over time, methinks.

Here's the sneak preview:

© 東北新社 / 2009 ヤマトスタジオ/「宇宙戦艦ヤマト 復活篇」製作委員会 / Yoshinobu Nishizaki


AstroNerdBoy said...

I really hope they do this one right. I rather liked Space Battleship Yamato on the whole despite its age and some weaknesses in storytelling.


Totally agree with you there - it's a classic anime and elements of it are superb; I just hope they get this down pat! ;)

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